PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania baseball team saw its season come to a close on Saturday afternoon, falling to the Lou Gehrig Division champion Columbia Lions in a doubleheader at Meiklejohn Stadium. A solitary run was all it took for the Lions in the day’s first game, as two pitchers combined to shut out the Quakers and ruin a masterful performance from Dan Gautieri, who suffered a 1-0 defeat. In the final game of the year, Penn fell behind in the early going and tried to claw back, but Columbia did just enough to hold on for a 6-4 victory.
Penn ends the year at 22-21 (7-13 Ivy), while Columbia improves to 24-19 (16-4 Ivy) and will host Dartmouth next weekend in a best-of-3 series to determine the Ivy League’s NCAA Tournament representative.
Game One – Columbia 1, Penn 0
The end of the season took an unfortunate turn for Gautieri, who started 5-0 but ended 0-3 as he received just two runs in support of his final three turns on the bump.
The sophomore had six of his seven strikeouts in the first three innings, but Columbia was able to scratch across its only run of the contest. The speedy Nick Crucet led off with a single and stole second and third to put himself in position to score on an Eric Williams sacrifice fly.
That proved to be all that was needed as the Quakers only managed two hits against Columbia starter Tim Giel and reliever Alex Black. One of those hits came in the second inning and was quickly erased on a double play. The other came with two down in the fourth inning, but Penn was unable to convert the opportunity.
Any chance that the Red and Blue had to win the game was because of Gautieri’s excellence. He worked around a lead-off double in the fourth, stranded two more who reached on walks in the fifth and sat down the Lions in order in the sixth. Columbia managed just its third hit of the game to lead off the seventh inning, but with two men on and no one out, Gautieri helped his cause by fielding a bunt attempts and firing to third to get the lead runner on the force play. He then escaped by recording the second out on another sacrifice bunt and then getting Williams to pop out meekly to Rick Brebner.
With Black on the mound to try for the save, Spencer Branigan led off the frame with a walk. Pinch-runner Brian Hurst then moved to second on a Ryan Mincher sacrifice and a grounder to the right side of the infield from Mitch Montaldo. With the tying run on third, Black was able to secure the win for Columbia by striking out Joey Greco to end it.
Game Two – Columbia 6, Penn 4
The common denominator in Penn’s woes down the stretch was its opponent’s ability to jump out in front early and fight off a late Quaker charge. To that effect, Columbia put four runs on the board in its first three trips to the plate before the Red and Blue worked their way back into the game. The Lions had a run on the board before Penn could retire a single batter, then saw the second run come in on a play in which the middle infield worked a 4-6-3 double play for a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
Black connected for his team-leading seventh home run of the season in the third inning to put the Lions on top, 4-0. That was the cue for the Quakers to get started. Ian Kukowski started off the home half of the inning with a single into left. That was followed by a bunt single from Gary Tesch and a Mike Vilardo RBI single back up the middle, making it 4-1.
The Quakers drew another run closer in the fourth inning. Mincher started it off as the beneficiary of an error by Aaron Silbar. Montaldo walked to put two men aboard and Tesch paid it off with a double into the left field corner to bring Mincher in, slicing the Columbia lead to 4-2.
Each team put one on the board in the fifth inning. Brebner started it off with a lead-off walk against reliever Kevin Roy. After safely making it to second, he came in on a RBI single from Ryan Deitrich.
Pat Bet relieved Cody Thomson to start the sixth inning and sat the Lions down in order. However, he ran into trouble and had a run charged to him in the seventh despite not giving up a hit. A lead-off walk and a hit batter put two Columbia hitters aboard with one down. After John Beasley struck out the first hitter he faced, pinch-hitter Nick Maguire was able to line a single into center field to make it a 6-3 contest.
One last time, the Quakers tried to make a game of it. Montaldo led off the bottom of the eighth by getting hit with an offering from Mike Weisman. He then moved to second on an error from Weisman on a wild pickoff attempt and moved up to third on a wild pitch. An error from Silbar put Tesch aboard and allowed Montaldo to come in and close the gap to 6-4.
Beasley worked his final inning wearing the Red and Blue in the ninth and ran into trouble after an error against the lead-off hitter. The Lions put men on first and third with no one out, but a grounder to Montaldo failed to produce a run, and Penn ended its last inning on defense this season with a fine play to keep Columbia off the board. Following an intentional walk to Black that loaded the bases, Maguire chopped a ball to Brebner at first. The junior alertly threw home to Kukowski for the force play, who then fired back to Brebner to beat Maguire by a step and end the threat.
With one final at-bat, Penn loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth. Columbia’s Stefan Olson was effectively wild, hitting two Quakers and walking Deitrich, but managing to strike out one hitter and force another into a fielder’s choice that erased Deitrich at second. With a base hit likely tying the game, the right-handed Kukowski connected solidly and sliced a ball into right field that was curling towards the line and seemed destined to drop in, however Ferraresi was sprinting on contact and was able to just make the play, running full-speed and reaching low to make the final out.
Download: Penn-Columbia Game 1.pdf